INTERVIEW: Nathan O’Regan Talks Uplifting New Single ‘It’ll Be Alright’ Ahead Of Upcoming Debut EP ‘Uncovered Vol.1’

Nathan O’Regan speaks with Polly Havelock about new single, ‘It’ll Be Alright’.

How did you originally get into music?

I come from an incredibly musical family so it was always all around me. A bit like being brought up with a religion – I’ve never really considered any other options!

What were your biggest influences growing up?

I would say my biggest influence was my insatiable need for approval. That’s been a constant throughout my life and it’s been the driving force behind every endeavour I’ve ever undertaken for better or worse. I just want people to like me.

But on a more serious note – I’ve always been drawn in by songwriting. My parents were huge music fans and my Dad in particular introduced me to some of the artists that have remained my favourites ever since. People like Marc Cohn or Jackson Browne, Billy Joel and countless others.. I’ve been playing records like theirs on repeat for years.

Can you talk us through your new single, ‘It’ll Be Alright’, and what it means to you?

‘It’ll Be Alright’ was written by my close and personal friend, mentor and confidant, Gareth Dunlop. From the minute I heard it I thought it would be a hit and used to badger Gareth to release it himself but he never did – but he said he didn’t mind if I gave it a go so I went for it. I love that song and it was a pleasure to tackle it. Always used to put a smile on my face when I’d hear him sing it, so I’m very glad to have put a version out myself.

Your upcoming EP ‘Uncovered Vol. 1’ features a compilation of covers of your favourite artists from Northern Ireland. What was it like to reinterpret these songs, and what sparked the idea?

This was a lovely project to undertake, though a little daunting to cover songs by people who I actually know personally. Normally if you cover a Billy Joel song or something you’re never probably going to hear what he thinks of it but these folks are my friends too, so I tried to handle the whole thing with kid gloves.

I wanted to put something out before my album comes out next year and had initially thought about doing some old classics or something and trying to reinvent them, but honestly, it just wasn’t really lighting my world on fire.

The recent closure of Songbook, my monthly Belfast showcase for local artists, sparked an alternate idea. Inspired by the incredible songwriting talent I witnessed there, I decided to record some of those amazing songs as a tribute to the scene. The talent in Northern Ireland is incredible. I could have made
10 of these EPs.

How was your experience playing at The Great Escape in Brighton?

It was lovely to spend some time in Brighton for the first time. I’ve heard so many great things from friends that have played shows there and it certainly lived up to the expectation.

Before embarking on your solo career, you curated the acclaimed monthly live show ‘Songbook’ in Belfast, providing a platform for emerging talent in the local music scene. How did this experience spur you on to the next stage of your musical journey?

Songbook was started as an excuse to play some music with my friends every month. The guys who made up the house band are some of the most talented players that I’ve ever had the pleasure of sharing a stage with. It was heavily improvised, but their skill let me bring new songs to a full band and see them
come alive. It’s given me a level of confidence playing and communicating with musicians that I never had before and some of the moments from Songbook over the years have certainly ended up informing production choices for the album coming out next year. It was an absolute honour to be a part of and was somewhere to cut my teeth before I went out into the big bad world.

What artists are you currently listening to?

Honestly – it’s a lot of local stuff. Gareth Dunlop has just released an insanely good album that everyone should check out. Ciaran Lavery has some really great stuff coming out right now as well that I’ve been enjoying. Further afield, the new Lake Street Dive EP sounds killer and Brittany Howard’s record, ‘What Now’, has been getting a spin regularly in the car.

Lastly, what are you working on next?

We’re in the thick of mixing the album with Will Reeves which has been a lovely and painless process. He’s outrageously good at what he does and we’re delighted to have him aboard. Loving that whole process.

There are a few more releases from this EP due out before the end of the year. Next up is ‘Follow You Down’, written by Ciaran Lavery out on July 5th.

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